New study warns of dangers of third-hand smoke

Smokers can reduce, not eliminate risk to children

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Medical officials have warned about the dangers of second hand smoke for years. Now, a new study is linking third-hand smoke to a variety of diseases.

A study in the Journal of Tobacco Control found high levels of nicotine on the hands of children of smokers--three times higher than non-smoking adults who live with smokers--as well as traces of nicotine in their saliva.

Individuals can be exposed to third hand smoke in three different ways: inhaling toxins that are released back into the environment, for instance, toxins kicked up from people walking on carpets or rugs; ingesting toxins by touching surfaces then putting hands in mouths, especially prevalent with children; and touching leftover toxins that can be absorbed through the skin from clothing or furniture.

Dr. Scot Ackerman of the Ackerman Cancer Clinic said that there are ways for smokers to reduce the impact of third hand smoke.

Smoking outside is the first step. Changing clothes after smoking and before holding children and washing skin and hair after smoking can help, but its not enough.

"Even if you smoke outside, it's still in your clothes," Ackerman said.  "You have to do a full cleaning of the house. If you can smell it, it's there. It costs a lot of money to clean the walls, repaint the house, change the carpeting. It will linger in the house for five years after smoking."

For those looking to quit smoking, visit Tobacco Free Florida's website for tips.

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